5 Tips for Preserving Mental Health in College

As high school students prepare to transition into college, it can be easy to completely ignore the needs of the soul. Many go to college with their only goal being to acquire a master’s degree, bachelor’s degree, or PhD. However, it is beyond necessary to take steps to preserve one’s mental wellbeing. Without these necessary steps, students are likely to run out of motivation quicker than those with a strong mental fortitude. Here are five tips for taking care of your mental health in college. Remember, it isn’t always about academic perfection!

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5. Build Relationships with Professors and Counselors
At first, this may seem counterintuitive, but going out of your way to build strong relationships with a college’s faculty and staff can help give students some reprieve from stress. College students who go out of their way to meet with mental health counselors have developed better skill-building habits than their peers, according to a 2020 study from the National Institute of Health. Additionally, studying at a professor’s office hours allows that professor to understand your specific needs and give you specialized advice. Seeking help—be it academic or mental—helps college students develop independence and beneficial habits for the future, regardless of their majors. Seeking help is a strength, not a weakness.

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4. Build a Schedule You Adhere To
Willpower is one of, if not the most important, tool in a college student’s arsonal. Coherent schedules will help you stay on top of your schoolwork, payments, appointments, and all other important aspects of your life. Notifications on your laptop and alerts on your phone will be essential in planning out what needs to be done.

“I like it a lot more than high school,” says Gwendolyn Logan, a junior attending UC Santa Cruz. “If you have a good work ethic, like without someone telling you to do work, you’ll be totally fine.” No one is going to tell you what to do in college, so you need to be responsible for yourself. Thankfully, a digital planner lightens the burden significantly.

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3. Take Fewer Classes at the Start of College
Many universities, such as MIT, UCLA, and NYU, provide students with the ability to take fewer classes when they first start out. For incoming freshmen, it is a necessity to take fewer courses for the first term or semester. This gives you more time to develop a better social life, pursue your interests outside of school, and take care of yourself. Additionally, some schools offer students a small-scale experience for their first semester, such as UC Berkeley’s Fall Program for Freshmen (FPF), so that the transition from high school to college is more digestible. Since relationships and stability are important to establish at the very beginning of college, you might be better off with one less course or a smaller program altogether.

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2. Join Clubs and Student Organizations
“There will be a lot of free time—more than high school—so make some time to go do club activities!” says Amanda Makemson, a sophomore at Michigan State University.

Clubs and student organizations are a wonderful way to express the parts of yourself that you can’t show anywhere else, and the difference between high school groups and college groups is the scale.
Despite the grander scale, Amanda encourages you to be the best kind of selfish. “Definitely don’t be afraid to be the first one to say hi to people and engage in conversation. Make friends!” Whatever it is, be it a wacky club or organization dedicated to helping others, these groups are super effective tools in expressing yourself and making lifelong friends.

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1. Prioritize Your Passion(s)
More so than anything else on this list, following your heart is imperative. A large portion of incoming freshmen have goals of pursuing majors for the sake of practicality and not due to their actual enjoyment of the subject. This is not wrong by any means, but this can destroy a person’s will to express themself. However, even if you are someone like this, there are several ways to prioritize your passions. If you love sports, go to a game and support your college team. Talking with complete strangers is a great way to satisfy a need for socialization. Any passion of yours could be shared by others in a student club, even something as niche as underwater basket weaving! Maybe. The possibilities are nearly endless for self-expression.



In short, remember that you are a human being with necessities and desires. Don’t make your college experience some sort of death march with a degree as a reward. It isn’t about the destination, it’s about the journey. There’s more than enough room in your college journey to take care of your mental health and have fun. Make sure to take advantage of all of your resources to make this first step into adulthood as memorable as possible. Good luck, Toreadors!